Cutting Weight for Strongman: Is It Helping or Hurting You?

TAGS: weigh-ins, make weight, drop weight, Strongman competition, weight class, cutting weight, Mike Mastell, athlete

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As long as weigh-ins have been part of sports, weight cuts have been prevalent. It’s a part of the sport and it’s not going away any time soon. In strongman, guys will often cut down to make a weight class for the benefit of lighter weights.

Is the weight cut really helping you or could it be hindering your progress? I’m going to talk about if, when, and how often you should weight cut for strongman competition.

So the question is, “Should you cut?” The answer is, of course, “It depends.” By cutting weight in strongman, not only are you competing against lighter competitors like in other sports, but the requirements are also less. The events will be lighter or easier in a lighter class.

Is this a good thing? If you want to be more competitive at a given contest, then absolutely. I would advise you to pick your spots. If you’re a local competitor that has no aspirations of competing on the national level, then there’s a good chance the weights at your natural weight class will be very heavy for you. A reasonable weight cut will allow you a much better chance to be competitive.

However, if you are interested in competing at the national level, the weights might not be appropriate if you were to cut down a weight class for a small show. At nationals, the weights are at least 10% heavier than they are at a local contest. If you cut for all of your local contests, there may be a bit of shell shock when you get to the national level and all of the guys in your weight class are smoking much heavier weights.

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This is where I would offer you a bit of different advice. Cut down for one local contest to get your nationals qualification, then after that compete up. By competing up in the heavier class, you will get more familiar with handling those types of weights. Competing against some of the heavier guys will also push you much more to show what you’re made of. It’s really a matter of priority in this case. As an athlete, I understand that you want to do everything to win, but you have to decide what your goal ultimately is.


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If the most important thing is to win a pro card or to win nationals then you should be competing up a class at a local contest. Most of the national level guys are competitive up a weight class at the local level anyways. So even if you live in an area that is stacked with guys, second or third in a heavier class is more beneficial to your end goal than first in a less competitive class. It will push you in training, push you in contest, and ultimately lead to a much better prepared athlete.

Don’t be a local hero at the expense of your ultimate goal. If you compete down a class at every single contest, you will never get used to handling the heavier weights and you will never get the pressure that you’ll face at a big contest of being pushed to your limits and being forced to have a completely mistake-free day.

This does not apply to the guys that are not competitive at the national level. If you know that competing down is the only way that you can be competitive, you would be better off getting set up with a great diet coach to help diet you down to that class more permanently. Being leaner will help your speed, your conditioning, and your ability to recover between events. This will be a way for you to challenge yourself to get better.

That’s really the question you should ask yourself, “What way can I make myself a better athlete?” On top of the performance benefit, you’ll also be healthier, which is the most important thing. We’re not professional athletes; you don’t make enough to put your health at risk for this sport.

I would put a cap on two to three cuts a year max. It does take a toll on you physically to drop 4-5% of your bodyweight. Just get stronger and challenge yourself. Put your ego at bay and do whatever is going to make you the better athlete, whether that be competing up at local shows or dieting down to stay at your competition weight year round.

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